Kirby Krackle has always had the anthems for misfits needing to pull together — but their newest-to-me album is all about reaching out.
Sounds Like You, whoever you may be, leaves a lot of the specific superhero, sci-fi and gaming references of past albums behind, to sing the praises, and imperfections, of the geeks themselves — and indeed every individual who is a misfit (and a glorious varied mismatch) in their own way. Main songwriter and singer Kyle Stevens told me this is about the progression of geek culture overtaking the mainstream, but it’s also about the geek flag that everyone can now unfurl.
Simple pleasures of fruitful slacking (“Cozy Pants O’Clock,” an ode to goofing off in adult jammies set to a great glammy backing of crunchy guitar and haunted-mansion piano; and “One More Episode,” a ballad of binge-watching with the one you love even more than Peggy Olson and Heisenberg), and knowing enough not to connect at too high-speed to your heart’s desire (“140 Characters”), are the heroic achievements here.
“Parachute,” about emotional leaps and looking out for each other, is my new fav love song (and the last three included KK’s own “Needing a Miracle” from Super Powered Love), and “Take You Out Tonight” is another ode to growing wiser as part of something; no one writes happily-married-ever-after songs like Stevens, because fanboys aren’t supposed to want that though it’s all we and Clark Kent are really ever thinking of.
What the aforesaid “Needing a Miracle” did for the Lois Lanes and Mary Janes of life, “Grandma’s House” does for the Aunt Mays; a disco inferno that completely unironically homages kickass wise-hearted old ladies (Stevens also happens to be setting one of the prime examples of what a male in fandom who doesn’t deserve to be chased down and effed up by a Catwoman cosplayer would look like).
Fictional characters are people too, and a pair of songs late in the disk keep Kirby Krackle’s gloved hand in the realm of comics-for-sound and movies-on-the-radio. “Web-Slinger/Hope-Bringer” looks at the lowest-hanging fruit of subject matter and the hardest to say something new about, which Stevens nails, making you sense not what it would look like to do what Peter Parker does, but feel like to be who he is, in an eerie, energized theme-song of psychological turmoil and release in flashbulbs of bursting ben-day color bombs. At an end of the spectrum far, far away “Moisture Farm” recasts the basics of Star Wars as a kind of guy-walks-into-a-cantina joke to remind us why so many of us get over it and grow up (but can still smile and identify).
The range of styles, from “Taco Night”’s suburban salsa to “North of the Wall”’s troubled, titanic hardcore punk, is like a colorful overwhelming wall of comics and cartridges, and with the new national anthem, “The Same Thing,” KK waves the flag for everyone who needs to be accepted and learn how good it feels to be different together. Geek lit always shows the crowd cheering one solitary hero as he or she prevails. But Sounds Like You reminds us that the story isn’t really worth it until everyone in the crowd-scene wins.